Major League Baseball will kick off the 2019 season with its earliest start ever (excluding international openers) as all 30 teams will take the field on March 28. Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 47 days
With 47 days until Opening Day, the Tribe’s number 47 was once again in the news as Trevor Bauer participated in an arbitration hearing with the Cleveland Indians for a second straight year on Friday. The results of the case are not expected until sometime next week, as the two sides were $2 million apart in their offers (Bauer asked for $13 million, while the Indians offered $11 million).
Regardless of the final figures, Bauer is due to receive a big raise from the $6.525 million that he received through arbitration a year ago. His new windfall of cash is, however, well deserved.
Bauer put all of the pieces together for a full season in 2018, when he became a legitimate Cy Young contender and an All-Star for the first time. He finished sixth in the American League’s Cy voting in what seemed to be an unjust end result for a superb season on the mound, where he went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in 28 games (27 starts). Had it not been for a freak injury in August, when he suffered a stress fracture of the right leg after being struck by a comebacker off of the bat of Chicago’s Jose Abreu, Bauer may have very well been at the top of the balloting, ahead of teammate Corey Kluber and right up against winner Blake Snell and runner-up Justin Verlander.
Bauer’s sixth season in Cleveland opened up eyes around the league as the right-hander continued his steady development on the mound. He kept runs off of the board and kept baseballs in the park altogether at the best pace in the league, allowing just 0.5 per nine innings of work. He was on pace to lead the Indians in strikeouts for the season before his injury, but he still topped the 200-mark for the first time in his career with 221 on the year, leading to a career-high 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings. His 2.21 ERA was nearly half of his career rate of 4.36 entering the season and his FIP of 2.44 was the best in the junior circuit. As a starter, opposing hitters batted just .209 for the season.
Bauer was a tough case to crack for opposing teams when taking the mound at Progressive Field. In 13 home starts, he went 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He struck out 109 batters in 83 innings (11.8 K/9) and limited the opposition to a .193/.274/.269 slash.
When it came to the splits, no one fared well against him. He faced left-handed hitters just one more time than right-handed ones over the course of the season. He struck out nine more of the right-handed hitters than left-handers, walking one more, but allowing a batting average eleven points higher. The righties posted a .213/.283/.312 line, while lefties put up a .202/.277/.293 slash. The slightly elevated slugging mark for the right-handers was due to the five additional extra base hits that they tallied on the year.
His numbers overall were consistent throughout the season. His highest single month ERA was 2.81 in May, when he went 2-1 in five starts. He struck out 62 batters in 41 1/3 innings in a strange 3-3 June, then charged into the All-Star break during a 3-0 July with a 2.03 ERA in six starts. He was off to a fantastic start in August, winning his first two outings while allowing just one run on five hits with three walks and 19 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings before his regular season efforts were put on hold due to his leg injury. He did return in September ahead of the playoffs, allowing two runs in nine and one-third innings to wrap up his year.
When Bauer won, he did it in dominating fashion. In his dozen victories, he allowed just ten total runs (nine earned) in 82 1/3 innings, a 0.98 ERA. He struck out 102 of the 325 batters that he faced in those contests. For the year, he left 79.5% of runners on base, the best mark of his big league career.
MLB Statcast indicates that Bauer uses six pitches to get the job done. His four-seamer was used 36.9% of the time in 2018, followed by his curveball (26.7%). He blends in a slider, cutter, changeup, and sinker. The four-seam and sinker accounted for the majority of his walks during the season. His slider was a dominating strikeout pitch with a devastating spin rate, whiffed on 41.8% of the time and accounting for 84 of his strikeouts. Opposing batters hit just .100 on the pitch with a .160 slugging mark.
Now 28 after a mid-January birthday, Bauer is hitting the prime years of his career with a nice trajectory guiding him in the right direction. He has placed his name among the best in the league (and even the Majors for that matter) at his craft and he has both the dedication and brainpower to continue to develop into a dynamic threat. With a wide ranging pitch arsenal and no hesitation to throw any of that selection at any point in an at bat, Bauer has developed a reputation on the field that can challenge the might of his oft-criticized social media presence. He has been a key to the Indians’ success in recent years and the club will look to him for more big things in 2019, when the starting rotation is going to need to do some heavy lifting to carry the perceived weaknesses of the offensive side of the roster.
Other notable Indians to wear 47 in Cleveland history (32 players in total): Jack Conway (the first to wear it in franchise history in 1941), Red Embree (1942) Ed Farmer (1971-73), Fred Beene (1974-75), Jesse Orosco (1989-91), Scott Scudder (1992-93), Jack Morris (1994), Joe Roa (1995-96), Ron Villone (1998), Tim Drew (2000-01), Scott Sauerbeck (2005-06), Joe Borowski (2007-08), Jeremy Sowers (2008), Shelley Duncan (2010-12), Bryan Shaw (2013)
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 59 – Carlos Carrasco
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 55 – Roberto Perez
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 52 – Mike Clevinger
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 49 – Tyler Olson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 48